The Minnesota State Mavericks will hope to make quick work of a Minot State football team that saw little to almost no success last season.
The previous season ended on a sour note for the Mavericks, as they lost their first playoff game after going 10-1 in the regular season. Luckily for Minnesota State University, it is the start of a new season. Coming into 2016, there will be some new faces and a lot of expectations for a young, yet hungry, group of Mavs.
“We have to be in a position to develop young men.” Head Coach Todd Hoffner said.
Entering their first game of the 2016 season, Hoffner will have an opportunity to develop a young Mavericks football team that will have a lot to prove. The Mavericks will be heading up to North Dakota to play the Minot State University Beavers. Last season, Minot State went 1-10 in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC).
This should be a good first game for the Mavericks so they can start figuring out the identity of both their offense and defense. Last season, Minot State gave up an average of 219 yards per game on the ground and 182 yards per game through the air.
MSU Players like Virgil Hammond, Ty Dennis and Brett Esser will play big roles in an opening game where each team will be looking to establish themselves. Finding their identity will be important for Hoffner, as he will need to see key items of importance from his offense during their first game of the season.
“We’re trying to be efficient, and I’m looking for positive plays,” Hoffner said.
The big questions will be centered around how well the offensive line can perform after losing four starters from the past season. The Mavericks offensive line will need to be able to pick up and recognize their assignments if Hammond and the running back core plan to put up big numbers like the 219 yards let up per game by the Beavers last season.
On the opposite side of the ball for the Mavericks is a stingy defense that only allowed an average of 16 points per game last season. The Mavericks will get to work on their coverages and blitz schemes as they play a Minot State team that struggled offensively at times last season.
Hoffner kept it simple with what he wants to see from his defense on Thursday.
“Creating turnovers, stopping the run and keeping points off the board is crucial.” Hoffner said.
Once the defense is able to show Hoffner what he would like to see, continuing their success from last season should not be a problem for the defense. The Minot State offense only threw for 167 yards per game last season; however they did rush for 100 yards per game so stopping the run will have to be a focal point for the defense. If the defense can stop the run and create turnovers at the same rate as 2015, then keeping the points off the board should not be an issue for the Mavericks.
The Mavericks and Beavers will be facing off September 1st, with Minot State playing as hosts. No. 7 ranked MSU will hope to move up in the rankings after their first matchup. Kickoff is slated for 6 p.m.